A conference hosted by fringe Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir is seeking a new meeting place after protests from conservative leaders and community members prompted their original location to rescind their offer.
Roughly 1,000 attendees are expected to attend the Khilafah Conference 2012, which was originally set to take place at The Meadows Club in suburban Rolling Meadows, Ill. on June 17, according to WBEZ. The venue said a deluge of phone calls and emails opposing the Chicago-area club's meeting prompted the move.
Hizb ut-Tahrir's mission is to unite Muslims under a single Islamic State that adheres strictly to the religion's laws, according to their website, and they proclaim to be non-violent, though the group is banned in several countries where their principles call for overthrowing existing governments.
Conservative leaders denounced the Rolling Meadows meeting, including a campaign against the conference led by Jihad Watch, which claimed the Meadows Club's refusal to host the group as a victory on their website.
Former Republican Presidential candidate and Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann also denounced the conference during a speech at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference in Rosemont demanded that President Barack Obama intervene to prevent the group from meeting.
Two previous Hizb ut-Tahrir America conferences in the area, one in Oak Lawn in 2009 and another in Oak Brook in 2011, faced similar opposition from conservative groups in the Chicago area, according to the Chicago Tribune. Meadows Club owner Madan Kulkarni told the newspaper he couldn't risk the possible financial losses if picketing and other protests took place as promised.
The Chicago area chapter of the 60-year-old international organization has a few hundred members, most of whom live in the West, South and Northwest suburbs, according to the Daily Herald. Zaher Sahloul, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, told the newspaper that the group is "on the fringes of the political Islamic groups" and are occasionally "kicked out from mosques" during Friday prayers for disrupting lectures to profess their ideology.
Despite original reports that the conference would be canceled, Hizb-America.org reports that the event will be held at the same time on June 17 at a different location that will be announced closer to the event.
Other Islamic groups in the Chicago are have had less difficulty organizing events. The annual Saviour's Day conference was held at the United Center this year, and a Jewish-Muslim interfaith group hosted a community event commemorating the anniversary of 9/11 at Temple Sholom last fall without incident.